From what I have seen as a trainer, core strength is a pretty good predictor of your overall level of fitness. We use our core for just about every move we make, although we don't think about it very often. A strong core doesn't mean that you can do a lot of crunches or sit ups. It has to be built over time with a variety of strength training exercises. Not only does a strong core make you look and feel great, but here are some other advantages to building your middle:
Reasons to increase CORE STRENGTH:
1. It prevents injury in the extremities- the stronger your core the less effort you need to put into to other movements. When I injured my hamstring, the PT put me on a core strengthening program to reduce the load on my legs.
2. It lowers your risk of back pain- a weak core means the surrounding muscles including the back need to work harder to hold the spine straight.
3. It promotes good posture- a stronger core makes proper posture easier. When I see a runner with shoulders slouched over and arms crossing the body, this is usually a good indicator of lack of core strength.
4. It improves your balance- a strong core helps you move in different directions and not lose your balance. Working out on a Bosu ball is great for strengthening core while testing your balancing skills.
5. Perform daily functions easier- the stronger your core the easier it is to do simple functional movements such as bending down to tie your shoes, getting in and out of the car, etc.
6. It can improve your performance- a strong core translates to better performance in almost anything. Fatigued cyclists hunched over their handlebars after a few hours on the bike often can improve their ride by strengthening their core muscles.
7. Your abs may look FLATTER- and I think just about everyone wants this.
One workout I HIGHLY recommend for improving core strength is the PiYo Workout! It will increase your flexibility, build upper and lower body strength all while strengthening your core. Want to get it? CLICK HERE.